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Chinese mainland, HK sign further expanded economic agreement


HONG KONG, July 29 -- The Chinese central government and the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) on Tuesday signed Supplement V to the Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), which will allow Hong Kong enterprises greater and easier access to the mainland market.

The supplement was a fifth supplement to CEPA that has been expanded each year since it was first signed in 2003. It was signed by John Tsang, financial secretary of the HKSAR government, and the central government's Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei at a ceremony in Hong Kong witnessed by HKSAR Chief Executive Donald Tsang.

Jiang said the new economic accord, which comes into force on Jan. 1, 2009, will introduce 29 measures that will build on the liberalization of 15 services sectors and open two more mining- related services sectors to Hong Kong businesses.

The total number of services sectors covered by CEPA and its supplements will thereby be expanded from 38 to 40, the HKSAR government said.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Donald Tsang welcomed the new agreement, adding that Hong Kong and the neighboring mainland province of Guangdong have agreed to carry out a package of pilot measures to further economic cooperation.

"The current CEPA package and the Guangdong pilot measures will offer new business opportunities in the mainland for Hong Kong businesses and service suppliers, making Hong Kong even more attractive to overseas investors," he said.

Under Supplement V to the CEPA, any mainland-incorporated banking institutions established by a Hong Kong bank will be allowed to locate its data center in Hong Kong, subject to the fulfillment of certain requirements.

Among other measures, Hong Kong permanent residents with Chinese citizenship will be allowed to take the mainland qualification exam for tourist guides, and Hong Kong medical and dental service suppliers will be allowed to set up wholly-owned outpatient clinics in Guangdong.

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